Fighting the Devil in Dixie
How Civil Rights Activists Took on the Ku Klux Klan in Alabama
By Wayne Greenhaw
(Lawrence Hill Books, Hardcover, 9781569763452, 336pp.)
Publication Date: January 2011
Shortly after the success of the Montgomery Bus Boycott, the Ku Klux Klan--determined to keep segregation as the way of life in Alabama--staged a resurgence, and the strong-armed leadership of governor George C. Wallace, who defied the new civil rights laws, empowered the Klan's most violent members. As Wallace’s power grew, however, blacks began fighting back in the courthouses and schoolhouses, as did young southern lawyers like Charles Chuck” Morgan, who became the ACLU’s southern director; Morris Dees, who cofounded the Southern Poverty Law Center; and Bill Baxley, Alabama attorney general, who successfully prosecuted the bomber of Birmingham’s Sixteenth Street Baptist Church and legally halted some of Wallace’s agencies designed to slow down integration.
Fighting the Devil in Dixie is the first book to tell this story in full, from the Klan’s kidnappings, bombings, and murders of the 1950s to Wallace running for his fourth term as governor in the early 1980s, asking forgiveness and winning with the black vote.
For nearly 17 years, Wayne Greenhaw covered Alabama state government, the Wallace administrations, and civil rights for The Alabama Journal and The Montgomery Advertiser. From 1965 until 1977, he interviewed governors, civil rights leaders, and Ku Klux Klansmen throughout the South. Many of these stories were published in The New York Times and in national magazines. In 2006 he was presented the Harper Lee Award as Alabama’s distinguished writer. Fighting the Devil in Dixie is his 22nd book.
"[The book] does more than take you behind the picket lines, along the dark country roads and under the white hoods of the civil rights struggle. It takes you inside its very skin, and inside the South's broken heart." Rick Bragg, author, All Over But the Shoutin' and Ava's Man
Wayne Greenhaw writes about civil rights with a journalist’s skills, the ease of a natural-born storyteller, an insider’s perspective, and a sensitive Southerner’s understanding. He was there during the quintessential events of the modern movement, and now you can be too. I recommend it.” Julian Bond, civil rights leader and former chairman of the NAACP
Wayne Greenhaw has long been the dean of Alabama journalism--the oracle for visiting national reporters in search of The Story. It’s no surprise, then, that his account of the progressives who took on the state’s racist status quo is authoritative, intimate, and gripping. A valuable addition to the civil rights bibliography.” Diane McWhorter, author of Carry Me Home: Birmingham, Alabama; The Climactic Battle of the Civil Rights Revolution
Wayne Greenhaw’s book is very nearly indispensable for people who study the South. This is an Alabama story, but it spreads far beyond its hearth and home.” Roy Reed, former reporter for the New York Times
[This is] the dramatic story of the brave, determined black and white Southerners who took on the haters in Alabama and, against all odds, turned the tide against them. It is an intimate, knowledgeable and overdue account, heartening in its reminder that it is as possible as it is necessary to confront and overcome evil in your own backyard.” Hodding Carter III, journalist, politician, and educator
"Fighting the Devil in Dixie is a major addition to the historic literature of the Southern Civil Rights movement. As an Alabama journalist, Wayne Greenhaw was an eye witness to events that changed America. With this book, he richly fulfills Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.'s teaching that we must all bear witness for justice." Howell Raines, author of My Soul is Rested
This is such a fresh take on the civil rights struggle. Wayne Greenhaw grew up living and then covering all of this, reporting the good fight then, and now memorably documenting it in this wonderful book.” Paul Stekler, director, George Wallace: Settin’ the Woods on Fire
"Combin[es] personal memories with a wealth of sources . . . [this book] chronicles one of the great victories in America's ongoing struggle for social justice." BookPage